The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

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      He shuffled across the middle of the court, stumbled, realized too late he couldn’t reach the ball, switched his racquet from his right to his left hand, lunged and swung weakly as he tumbled to the hard-tru. We helped him up, took a break. It was a Saturday morning, sun shining, air cool, near the end of the season, and we knew, he was near the end of his days playing tennis.

 

        Ted Georgoff was 79 that day. Still playing doubles with men 15 to 20 years younger. I was his partner for a number of club tournaments and a friend. Ted died recently at age 81. Press readers may remember him from his many letters to the editor over the years, both to this paper and to The Blade. He wrote on many subjects including most recently about same-sex marriage, the Keystone pipeline and whether our country was fighting in the Middle East for freedom, or for the freedom of big oil.

        Ted grew up in the Birmingham neighborhood of East Toledo, attended Holy Rosary School and, later, seminary school near Chicago. That didn’t stick and Ted came home and spent 30 years at Libbey-Owens-Ford, retiring at age 48. That early retirement left plenty of time for tennis and that’s where we met. His approach to the game left an impression on me as I approach another year of playing amateur sports when I turn 68 this month.

        Ted played the game the right way — with joy, passion and humor. He was a smart player who accentuated his strengths and devised strategy to attack his opponents’ weaknesses. I admired that and was honored to share the court with him.  

        Ted had limitations when he reached his 70s. He lacked power, height and speed. But, he was accurate and he could keep the ball in play until you made a mistake giving him the opportunity for a winner. He also had a drop shot that brought you so close to the net that your only option was to pop up a weak return which he would lob over you for a winner.

        The seniors I know who still play sports aren’t trying to recapture glory days. Our testosterone levels are lower. There’s less chest thumping. We simply want to play the game for the exercise, the stress relief, the camaraderie and the fun. Ted was one of us, a role model for those approaching our 70s and 80s. He kept his weight down, swam every day to keep muscle tone and played tennis regularly.

        As we age, the desire to sacrifice the time and energy to stay in shape and the willingness to compete wanes. We gain weight, we lose muscle tone, we have other commitments and obligations. Injuries and arthritis take their toll. But, still we play, some of us on artificial hips and knees, with stents, pacemakers, braces and wraps and we pre-treat with Aleve and Tylenol.

        Some say we should be content with swimming and walking. But, for a vanishing number of us it’s the competition that stokes the passion. When you cross those white lines, you free yourself from life’s challenges. You have no time to think about them. Competition dictates you focus all your effort on developing strategy, executing fundamentals and assessing the risks of hitting an offensive shot to pressure your opponent. You learn patience to put yourself in a better position for a kill shot. You learn to attack weakness and play to your strengths. And, you learn to fight your demons — those doubts that whisper to your conscious self that you are not good enough to make a difficult shot or perform at a level you expect.  In doubles, you must also communicate to cover those areas where neither player has clear-cut responsibility.

        These are lessons transferable to life. We all have weaknesses we need to minimize, strengths we need to accentuate. We all need to develop strategies, execute fundamentals, exhibit patience, take risks, help teammates, win humbly, lose gracefully and overcome doubt in order to be successful in our careers and our family life.  

        As I inch closer to my 70s, I still find value in sports competition and of emulating Ted’s approach to making the most of waning abilities.

       

 

border wall

Do you think a wall along our Mexican border is needed?
356301803 [{"id":"305","title":"No, it's too expensive.","votes":"7","pct":13.21,"type":"x","order":"1","resources":[]},{"id":"306","title":"No, it won't work.","votes":"16","pct":30.19,"type":"x","order":"2","resources":[]},{"id":"307","title":"Yes, only a wall will protect our border from illegal migration.","votes":"30","pct":56.6,"type":"x","order":"3","resources":[]}] ["#194e84","#3b6b9c","#1f242a","#37414a","#60bb22","#f2babb"] sbar 160 160 /component/communitypolls/vote/111-border-wall No answer selected. Please try again. Thank you for your vote. Answers Votes ...